My move towards healthy eating is going well – in fact, I think it’s safe to say it’s now more of a lifestyle for me and I consider healthy food to be the tastiest, most nutritious way to nourish my body – so ‘good’ or ‘better’ food choices are now pretty much engrained into me. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not perfect. I ate a McDonald’s last week (which yes, OK, I admit… was rather enjoyable) and I’m still partial to gin, wine, processo, pale ale, etc. etc. so don’t worry – I’ve not gone all out health-nut…. Just yet!
One of my favourite things to do, is think up ways of making traditionally ‘naughty’ meals ‘good’. Like my recipe for this lean turkey curry with cauliflower rice, or my favourite healthy sausage baked eggs. The ActiFry opens up a whole raft of opportunities to do this, as it’s hot-air technology and continuous rotation of food whilst it cooks, makes sure the food cooks evenly, and all with just a teeny spoon of oil used.
The nice folk at Tefal sent me an ActiFry express XL in black and challenged me to come up with a new recipe. After doing some initial research, I realised there’s so much more you can do with this than just chips – although it is great to do chips in too.
I saw this recipe by Urvashi from Botanical Kitchen, who made a speedy granola in her ActiFry! Hailing it as the best, quickest and most fuss-free way to rustle up a crunchy, golden, healthy granola in just eight minutes. I will be trying this out very soon with my own variations of nuts, berries and superfoods so keep a look out for that, and thank you to Urvashi for allowing me to use her gorgeous image below.
However, as amazing as the granola looks, I was determined to recreate a healthier version of one of my favourite dishes from the Chinese; Salt and Pepper Chicken.
I mean, what is not to love about hot, deep fried chicken smothered in chilli, garlic, onions and peppers? Our local Chinese, Paragon, is really quite special and their food is always great quality and really tasty without the use of MSG. However, that doesn’t stop them deep-frying everything and using a ridiculous amount of oil in most dishes.
So this is my stripped-back, minimal oil version of the dish teamed with my light egg fried rice – it honestly tastes amazing and was ready in less than 45 minutes.
I used a combination of chicken thighs and drumsticks, but if you recreate this I would just stick to drumsticks with skins removed as they came out the best!
Serves two, takes less than 45 minutes. Better and healthier than a take-out, promise.
What you need:
For the Salt & Pepper Chicken
- 6 decent-sized chicken drumsticks
- 1 large white onion, diced into 1 cm chunks
- 1 sweet red pepper, diced into 1.5 cm chunks
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1 large green chilli pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds depending on heat tolerance, I keep them all in!)
- 1 Tefal spoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tefal spoons light soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to serve
For the light egg fried rice
- 120g easy cook basmati rice (I use Tilda)
- 2 large, free range eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 heaped tsp. coconut oil
- 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
What to do:
Start by removing the skins from the drumsticks and placing them in a bowl along with the soy and sesame oil to marinade for about 10 minutes.
After marinating time, add the chicken to the bowl of the ActiFry and set the timer to cook for 15 minutes. Ensure the rotating paddle is rotating before you set about prepping your rice.
Cook the basmati rice as per the cooking instructions, drain well and set aside to cool (don’t skip this step!) allowing as much steam as possible to evaporate from the rice so it dries out a little.
After the chicken’s first 15 minutes is up, open the ActiFry and add the onion, garlic, peppers, chilli and some freshly ground sea salt (1 tsp.) and black pepper to taste. Set the timer for a final 10 minutes and let it cook and rotate away while you get on with the rice…
Once your rice has dried out, add the coconut oil to a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once melted, add the rice and stir well so it gets lightly coated in the oil and warms through.
After 2-3 minutes, push all the rice to one side of the pan and add the beaten eggs to the empty side. Allow the eggs to start to scramble (a bit like if you’re making an omelette!) but as the egg firms up, use your spatula the break it into light, fluffy pieces. Slowly incorporate the rice to combine with the egg pieces, add the soy and spring onion and season to taste.
Check the chicken is cooked through – no pink meat in sight and juices running clear.
Serve the salt & pepper chicken on top of the egg fried rice and make sure you scoop up all of the oniony-garlicky-chilli mixture goodness. Enjoy!
Overall I found the Tefal ActiFry Express XL exceptionally easy to use. It doesn’t actually have any settings as such, just ‘on’ and a timer; so it’s very easy to get to grips with.
I’ve also made some lovely chips in it and am looking forward to making granola, soy and ginger salmon and also a king prawn stir fry. The possibilities seem endless and the minimal use of oil is fantastic.